Girl murdered over hijab?

A 16-year-old Canadian was reportedly killed by her Muslim father. Some hint it's because she wouldn't cover up.

By Tracy Clark-Flory

Published December 13, 2007 10:10AM (EST)

At first, 16-year-old Aqsa Parvez of Mississauga, Ontario, would wear a hijab when she left home each morning, only to take it off by the time she arrived at school. But, eventually, the 11th grader began clashing with her family over their demand that she always wear a head scarf and in late September she ran away from home. On Monday morning, Parvez returned to her parents' house to pick up her things. Soon after, the police received a call from her father, Muhammad Parvez, announcing that he had killed her. She was rushed to a hospital in critical condition and died Tuesday morning. Now her father is charged with murder and her 26-year-old brother is charged with obstructing police.

Parvez's friends were well aware that she lived a double life out of fear, that this wasn't a typical case of parental frustration over teenage rebellion. The Globe and Mail reports that Parvez once spotted her brother while on a walk with a friend and put on her head scarf in a panic, saying, "He'll kill me, he'll kill me." The friend laughed it off and said, of course, he wouldn't actually kill her. Parvez responded: "Yeah, he will."

Now as much as it's clear that the hijab was a point of contention with her family and her father in particular, it hasn't been established that her father killed her because she refused to wear the hijab. But, inevitably, some Canadian cultural commentators suggest Pervez's murder is "a sign of the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in their own backyard." Other, lesser publicized voices suggest that it's simply a case of parental abuse. And, of course, the case has given rise to a hubbub over the hijab, with calls for feminists and "the liberal intelligentsia" to "wake up and say the hijab is a symbol of oppression."

Assuming, for a second, that Parvez was killed because she refused to wear a head covering, this seems a terribly sad example of religious extremism. But using her death to make a larger argument against the hijab seems willfully misguided and oppressive in its own right. If we were to proscribe anything with the possibility of being oppressive -- without making a distinction between actual and potential oppression -- we would have very little left in this world.

Tracy Clark-Flory

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